Anderson Injury Lawyers | June 21, 2023 | Car Accidents
If you are involved in a car accident in Fort Worth, Texas, someone else involved in the accident might file a claim against you even if the accident was not your fault. In fact, they might not have been injured, or they may be exaggerating their injury. They might have even deliberately caused the incident. You need to be ready for this, and you need to take effective steps after something like this happens.
In most cases, the claim comes in the form of a third-party claim against your liability insurance policy.
What Happens When an Insurance Claim Is Made Against You?
When a third party files an insurance claim against you, it is your insurance company, not you, who is responsible for paying up to policy limits. if the claim is successful, and if it exceeds the limits of your insurance policy, the insurance company will not pay any amount exceeding its policy limits. This might leave you on the hook for paying the difference.
Further, if the third party’s claim is successful and the insurance company pays it, your insurance could be canceled or your rates might go up. Obviously, this is an undesirable state of affairs that you want to avoid if you can. There is no reason for you to sit back and accept a black mark on your driving record because of a false claim.
Insurance Fraud in Car Accident Claims: Two Different Kinds
Insurance fraud is both a criminal offense and a civil offense. That means you can sue someone who commits fraud against you even as the prosecutor is filing criminal charges against the perpetrator.
Someone commits “soft” fraud when they exaggerate an injury claim or file a claim over a non-existent or pre-existing injury. Most of us have seen portrayals of this on TV countless times, such as someone holding their neck and shouting “Whiplash! Whiplash!” after a minor fender bender. Whiplash is a common assertion in soft fraud claims because even real whiplash often fails to exhibit measurable symptoms. For instance, whiplash doesn’t show up on an X-ray or MRI scan.
Soft fraud is serious, but hard fraud is more serious. In hard fraud, someone deliberately causes a car accident in order to generate an insurance claim that they can profit from. In essence, they are trying to sell their car to your liability insurance company. They might very well fake an injury or claim for a pre-existing injury to obtain even more money.
How To Handle a Claim Against You
Take the following actions after the accident:
- Call 911 to get the police to the scene of the accident and answer their questions. Get a copy of the police report as soon as you can.
- Photograph the aftermath of the accident, including injuries and property damage.
- Get the names and contact details of the other driver, any passengers, and any witnesses.
- Notify the insurance company immediately about the accident, tell them about your suspicions, and cooperate with their investigation. Insurance companies do not like to be defrauded.
- Take advantage of the burden of proof. The plaintiff (the party claiming injury) must prove every element of their claim on a “more likely than not” basis. If they cannot do this, you win.
If the other driver’s claim is within your policy limits, the insurance company might decide to settle with the other driver just to rid themselves of the claim. If this happens, there is probably not much you can do. If your insurance company is convinced that the other side cannot prove their case, however, they will refuse to settle. They will also defend you in court if necessary, with no need for you to pay for a lawyer.
If you have no insurance and no significant financial resources, the accusing driver probably won’t even bother filing a lawsuit against you. There is no point in suing someone who cannot afford to pay.
You Need a Litigation Lawyer Even if You Plan To Settle Out of Court
You need a Fort Worth car accident lawyer to represent you, at least if the claim is for a substantial amount. If you carry auto accident liability insurance (required of every Texas driver), the insurance company will handle this for you. But in either event, having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference.